...but because the filmmakers on the forthcoming Star Trek Into Darkness have said it's an existing, canonical character, we've never seriously considered that the film's villain might be someone entirely new, until now.
The image released earlier today from Paramount Pictures came to us via e-mail with no caption, but The Huffington Post have run with the same photo, this time with the following caption: "(Left to right) Zachary Quinto is Spock, Benedict Cumberbatch is John Harrison and Chris Pine is Kirk in STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS from Paramount Pictures and Skydance Productions."
John Harrison? Could the British actor be bringing a decidedly Beatles-inspired feel to the character?
In all likelihood, "John Harrison" is no more the character's name than Ducard or Miranda Tate were the characters played by Liam Neeson and Marion Cotillard in Christopher Nolan's Batman films, but that won't stop the press and fans from trying to find a John Harrison in Star Trek lore, certainly.
And along the way, it'll help all of we media types, who have grown bored of finding new ways to say "the villain whose name we don't know." They could also be going with an alias because, let's face it, "Benedict Cumberbatch" just SOUNDS like a movie villain's name. It's probably better than whatever he'll eventually end up with, and you don't want the final reveal to be a disappointment.
UPDATE: All kidding aside, a reader below has pointed out that John Harrison is apparently the name given a recurring extra on the Enterprise during the Khan-centric episode "Space Seed." You can find out more about the character at the link above, but the gist is that he was a character who played a variety of roles in the series, but was eventually promoted to Lieutenant. He was a red shirt in "Space Seed" but survived the encounter with Khan.
The name still feels a bit reminiscent of John Blake, the character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in The Dark Knight Rises who was, for all intents and purposes, Robin. The character was given a name used by a one-off Batman character from an obscure story in order to throw fans off the scent of exactly what role he might play in the film.